No State of the Nation Address (SONA) will make someone proud to be a Filipino. It has always been said: “masarap maging Filipino sa sariling bayan.” That has been uttered by OFWs, balikbayans and even the poorest of the poor. Those who have stuck it out in the Philippines rather than migrate to some other countries for greener pastures would often say, “kahit mahirap dito sa Pinas, basta sama sama tayo, masaya pa rin.”
If it is true that the SONA last 22 July was the SONA of every Juan dela Cruz then it should have started and given credit to where credit is due, the OFWs. Our country is afloat not because of luck or due to one name alone or attributed to a set of policies but because Filipinos take care of their own. As of April 2013, money sent home reached US$2 Billion.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that personal remittances, has fueled the country’s economic rise, rose 7 percent year-on-year. This brought the year-to-date total to $7.7 billion, higher by 6.4 percent over the same four-month period in 2012. “Remittances remained robust on the back of sustained demand for skilled Filipino manpower in various countries worldwide.” If indeed the domestic market was expanding, there should have been more jobs locally but the trend has been to look for jobs outside. Our number one exports are Filipinos and that’s a reality that government does not want to acknowledge. Sad.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, also reported that of the 367,738 job orders for the January to March period, about 30 percent were for relatively high-paying positions. “The job orders are mainly intended for employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Hong Kong.” The United States remained the biggest source of remittances, followed by Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Japan.
Remittances from workers in these countries made up 75.9 percent of the total that entered the country. Exporting human capital incurs risks: 1) the best of our homegrown talents are outside; 2) remittances drive our local economy hence it is consumption led; 3) we train, others reap the best years of Filipino labor; 4) when there are internal problems in host countries, our government fails to protect our so-called heroes and 5) when they return, they return to worst off situations.
“Sa SONA namin,” the Aquino II administration forgot to reckon with five risks that are still present and will impact in the last three years: jobless growth, increasing poverty, increasing divide between 40 Forbes list Filipinos and the rest of the country, flashpoints in countries that host OFWs and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. These five issues frame the last three years and at the rate the chest thumping took its sordid refrain in the 4th SONA, expectations are at its highest. According to surveys timed release before the SONA, Pulse Asia, “seven in every ten adult Filipinos approved of his performance in June while more than three in every four trusted Aquino.” While the 2nd Quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey found 76% satisfied with Aquino’s performance as president.
And with super majorities in the 16th Congress, the Aquino II can’t afford to miss solving these issues because there is no excuse for not doing so. Aquino has political capital to spare, controls both chambers of the 16th Congress and has appointed his own Chief Justice in the Supreme Court. With no “misguided or adventurist” junior officers around, what appears to be controlling are the so-called calculated risk factors.
Calculated risk is “a chance taken after careful estimation of the probable outcome. This term uses calculated in the sense of ‘planned with forethought,’ a usage from the mid-1800s. Its pairing with risk dates from World War II, when the chances for losing bombers were taken into account before a bombing mission was sent out. After the war the term was transferred to other undertakings where taking a chance to succeed had to be weighed against the costs of failure.”
The run up to SONA saw the alleged Napoles’ P10 Billion thievery, the COA audit on PDAF use, the more than P200 Billion Customs’s revenue slippage. Post SONA came the Cagayan de Oro bombing killing eight persons and injuring almost fifty. Then we read the Lapid pork, Sotto pork, misuse of road tax collections, CIDG-NBI riff involving millions of pesos in cash and illegal drugs.
Reading risks and calculating how to manage risks are vital to the success of Aquino II and yet read the strategy in place: “Ang stratehiya: Sagarin ang oportunidad para sa lahat, lalo na para sa mas nangangailangan. Hindi natin pakay na maghintay ng trickle down; hindi pwedeng baka sakali o tsamba lang silang daratnan ng mga biyaya ng kaunlaran. Ito pong tinatawag nating inclusive growth–itong malawakang kaunlaran—ang mismong prinsipyong bukal ng bawat inisyatiba, bawat kilos, bawat desisyon ng inyong gobyerno. Ang maiiwan na lamang ay ang ayaw sumama, dahil hindi sinamantala ang pagkakataon.”
Managing risks is not easy. It is not just taking advantage of time or chance.